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Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:University of North Texas
  • Gary R Webb
  • (940) 369-5815
  • Nicole Dash Dr
Award Date:07/18/2014
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 327,091
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 327,091
  • FY 2014=$327,091
Start Date:08/01/2014
End Date:07/31/2019
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.041
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:An Exploratory Study of Disaster Preparedness among Native American Communities in the United States
Federal Award ID Number:1435178
DUNS ID:614168995
Parent DUNS ID:064117963
Program:HDBE-Humans, Disasters, and th
Program Officer:
  • Jacqueline Meszaros
  • (703) 292-7261

Awardee Location

Street:1155 Union Circle #305250
Awardee Cong. District:26

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University of North Texas
Cong. District:26

Abstract at Time of Award

This study seeks to empirically measure disaster preparedness levels among Native American communities in the United States. While past studies have sought to measure preparedness at the individual, household, and organizational levels, few have focused explicitly on the community level and none have looked specifically at Native American populations. Thus, the research is transformative in its aim to refine and extend existing disaster preparedness frameworks while simultaneously broadening the field's horizon and reach through the inclusion of a historically underrepresented group. In addition to measuring preparedness levels, the study will also identify the major natural and technological hazards faced by Native American communities; explore and describe the structure of emergency management functions in those communities; and assess the challenges they face in their efforts to implement various disaster-related initiatives, such as the National Incident Management System and the National Preparedness Goal. With the frequency, severity, and financial costs of natural and technological disasters increasing, enhancing community resilience has become a national priority and preparedness is one mechanism through which local communities can strengthen their capacity to rebound from large-scale disasters. To better understand disaster preparedness levels in Native American communities and the challenges they face in their preparedness efforts, this study employs a triangulated, mixed-method approach that integrates survey research, focus group interviews, and geo-spatial analysis. The level of analysis in the research is the community, which is a significant departure from past studies, which have focused largely on individuals, households, and organizations. Statistical tests will be performed to assess the effects of numerous variables on levels of community preparedness, including hazard exposure, past disaster experience, risk perception, and emergency management capacity. In addition to the intellectual merits of the research in terms of refining empirical measures of preparedness at the community level, identifying factors that influence community preparedness levels, and focusing on an understudied population, the findings of the research are also expected to have important applied implications for emergency management practitioners and other public officials responsible for preparing their communities for future disasters and thereby enhancing societal resilience to a wide range of threats.

Project Outcomes Report


This Project Outcomes Report for the General Public is displayed verbatim as submitted by the Principal Investigator (PI) for this award. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Report are those of the PI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation; NSF has not approved or endorsed its content.

This project examined disaster preparedness among Native American communities in the United States.  Using a combination of surveys, interviews, and geographic information system (GIS) mapping, this research sought to identify the primary natural and technological hazards facing these communities, the structure of emergency management in them, levels of disaster preparedness, and challenges they face in their efforts to prepare for future disasters.  In terms of hazard exposure, this study found that Native American communities face a wide range of risks.  The most common natural hazards include wildfires and flooding, while common technological hazards include environmental contamination and, increasingly, induced seismicity, which is a growing phenomenon in many oil and gas producing states.  Related to the structure of emergency management in Native American communities, this research found that tribal emergency managers work in a diverse array of departments and agencies, including police and fire departments, environmental agencies, social and family services, interior services, public works, and planning and natural resources.  In terms of preparedness levels, the research found that Native American communities are engaging in a wide range of preparedness activities, including conducting public awareness campaigns, establishing mutual aid agreements with surrounding jurisdictions, testing disaster warning systems, and developing hazard mitigation plans.  However, participants in the study also identified several challenges they face in preparing their communities, including a lack of funding, federal guidelines and mandates based on a one size fits all model, and cultural factors.

Findings from this research have been disseminated widely to both academic and practitioner audiences.  For example, members of the research team have delivered presentations and posters at the Annual Natural Hazards Research and Applications Workshop, which brings together hazards and disaster researchers, emergency management practitioners, and policy makers.  Additionally, team members have attended and participated in meetings of regional and national tribal emergency management associations.  Members of the research team have also contributed to a report on emergency management education at tribal colleges and universities to be published by the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Higher Education Program, and data from the project are being used for a doctoral dissertation.  Overall, six doctoral students were engaged in research activities on the project, including four from historically underrepresented groups in STEM, and three of the students have since accepted faculty positions at major universities.

Achieving greater resilience to disasters has become a national priority, and various federal initiatives, including the National Preparedness Goal, are intended to bolster the readiness of the whole community, including individuals, families, the private and non-profit sectors, faith-based organizations, and state, local, federal, territorial, and tribal governments.  Increasing disaster preparedness in Native American communities, therefore, is a key element to achieving a more resilient nation, which is the primary objective of the National Preparedness Goal.  According to this research, two notable sources of resilience in Native American communities are the growth of the tribal emergency management profession and the involvement of youth in disaster preparedness activities.  Thus, the findings of this research have the potential to inform future preparedness efforts and further enhance societal resilience to disasters.

Last Modified: 10/28/2019
Modified by: Gary R Webb

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